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Prudential Singapore scraps retirement age for staff
AT Prudential Singapore, age is indeed just a number. The insurance company has removed the retirement age of 62 in its company manpower policy, paving the way for its 1,100 employees to have extended careers and decide when they want to retire, if at all.
This will also allow employees to "fulfil their personal and financial aspirations", said the company, which enacted the new policy on Oct 1.
Prudential Singapore's chief executive Wilf Blackburn said scrapping the retirement age of 62 made more sense for an ageing population which has an average lifespan of 83.1 years, and which is now nudging 100.
He noted that people who stopped work at 62 could be looking at nearly 40 years of retirement if they live to 100, adding that a long retirement could pose financial challenges should they outlive their savings.
A prolonged period of inactivity could also lead to health and social problems, he said.
"With this in mind, we decided to scrap the retirement age so that our employees can continue to work in Prudential for as long as they are able to perform their jobs well. We want to empower them to decide when they want to retire, or if they wish to retire at all, rather than specify a work expiry date."
There are six people aged 62 and above in Prudential's employ, who are eligible for re-employment in the next five years. With the new policy, they can now stay on in their jobs, continue drawing the same salary, and be entitled to the same benefits - including medical - as all employees, Prudential said.
They will still receive a retirement payout anytime they choose to leave.
"There is a lot that businesses can gain by tapping on the experience and knowledge of the more mature employees. At Prudential, we see this group of employees as valuable assets and are committed to support them in extending their productive years by offering them re-skilling opportunities and flexible work schedules as we scrap the retirement age," Mr Blackburn said.
The company said its new retirement policy was in line with the Republic's ambition to leverage its rapidly ageing workforce, and that it was introduced alongside the insurer's Ready for 100 report which "explores the readiness and aspirations of Singapore residents" to live to 100.
Luke Hee, general secretary of the Singapore Insurance Employees' Union, told The Business Times that "lifting the age bar is only one aspect of a more holistic approach in ensuring that our employees can continue to contribute to the company meaningfully".
"Nevertheless, it is certainly a positive step forward for both the company and employees."
Albert Sim, partner at global executive search firm DHR International, said Prudential's move might prompt employers to consider retaining older talent, especially for less labour-intensive roles. "As long as you are healthy and you like to work, you should," he said over the phone.
But companies might still think twice when it comes to top management, based on the belief that candidates aged around 45 to 55 would strike the right balance between experience and energy, added Mr Sim.
Labour economist Walter Theseira told BT that, from a labour market policy standpoint, "there is no need for government to define an age at which companies can sever the employment relationship".
He cautioned: "Abolishing the retirement age cannot be done without policies that also tackle age discrimination and the relevance and productivity of older workers."
- Additional reporting by Annabeth Leow